JA Worldwide | 100 Lives | Steven Wang | Rhodes Scholar

To commemorate JA’s 100th year in 2019, JA Worldwide is launching 100 Lives, profiles of JA alumni who are making a difference across the globe. Watch their inspiring journeys.


At 17, Steven Wang of Toronto, Canada, used his experience with JA to found Community Action by Youth, which empowered young people to address poverty and climate change. He served as a youth delegate to the United Nations and started a sustainable micro-finance project in Kenya. Today, he’s a Rhodes Scholar at Lincoln College in Oxford, England, earning a master’s in international relations.

“Junior Achievement was one of those first turning points,” Steven says, “where I realized there are ways to grow as a person and a leader.”

“I’m tremendously grateful [for JA,] and who knows where I would be today, if it weren’t for JA.”

JA Worldwide | 100 Lives | Mostafa Hemdan | RecycloBekia

To commemorate JA’s 100th year in 2019, JA Worldwide is launching 100 Lives, profiles of JA alumni who are making a difference across the globe. Watch their inspiring journeys.


Mostafa Hemdan participated in JA Worldwide/INJAZ Egypt’s Startup Program for college students and quickly saw a niche in the electronics waste-management field. This green industry refines the precious metals found in old smartphones, tablets, and laptops, and also gets rid of the hazardous materials in those electronics. For this business idea, Mostafa and his team won the INJAZ Egypt Startup Competition and the FedEx Access Award.

Now the CEO of RecycloBekia, Mostafa employees 10 full-time and 6 part-time employees, processing 30 tons of electronics each month, with huge growth plans.

“I am Mostafa Hemdan,” he says. “I am the CEO of RecycloBekia. I am JA.”

JA Worldwide | 100 Lives | Donna Shalala | University of Miami

To commemorate JA’s 100th year in 2019, JA Worldwide is launching 100 Lives, profiles of JA alumni who are making a difference across the globe. Watch their inspiring journeys.


Donna Shalala, President of the University of Miami and former Secretary of Health & Human Services, has raised a mid-size university in South Florida to one of the best in the United States. “In many ways, ” she says, “universities are small businesses.” And it was JA that gave her that business experience.

“I’m Donna Shalala. I am JA!”

Media Marvels: London entrepreneurs turn high school passions into profits

As young entrepreneurs, David Aideyan, Ayush Vaidya and Nick Lavery of London, Ontario march to their own beat.

For Aideyan and Vaidya, both 20, that’s their business. They own Everest Media Group, which markets media services and a catalogue of rap, hip hop and R&B beats to musicians. As teenagers, Vaidya produced instrumentals and Aideyan rapped over them for fun. Eventually their high school passion evolved into a money-making venture.
David Aideyan

In high school, Lavery was into a different medium – videos. He shot everything from family road trips to basketball games. His friends thought they were good, and word spread. Some athletes in his high school asked Lavery to make videos of them in action. Based on that, Lavery received an Ontario government grant for summer companies for his business idea to produce highlight reels of high school football and basketball players. These athletes ultimately used them to draw interest from university teams. (Pictured: David Aideyan)

Once in university himself, Lavery, 22, transformed the business from sports videos to corporate videos. His company, Take5 Digital, has produced videos for clients ranging from the London Knights junior hockey team to a local law firm.

The three entrepreneurs have something in common beyond their youth, creativity and media-focused businesses. They are JA London and District alumni who participated in Company Program. All three credit the program with providing the foundation – the skills, experience and encouragement – for business success.

“I gained the confidence that business is a viable career option,” says Lavery.

Finding the rhythm of business
After high school, Vaidya took two years of medical sciences in university, while Aideyan studied economics. Now both attend the Ivey Business School at Western University, and pay much of their way with the revenue from Everest.

They manage 10 producers who’ve made beats available for Everest to license to some 1,500 clients. In addition, Everest provides services from graphic and web design to music production, to fully support musicians in building a professional image.

Ayush Vaidya

 “We handle the business, so people can focus on making their music,” says Vaidya.

Before Everest, their formative business experience was JA. One lesson stood out: Build on your uniqueness. “You have to identify what’s really valuable,” says Aideyan. He also learned from handling different personalities. “When you have diversity in your business, you come up with ideas you wouldn’t otherwise. JA helped us with that,” he says. (Pictured: Ayush Vaidya)

Vaidya credits his JA company (selling “memory” trees for a park) with teaching him about knowing where to target customers (a London farmer’s market). “Now, we tailor our marketing to Instagram and a site called SoundClick, to focus on a few platforms and be the best at those streams for selling instrumentals,” says Vaidya.

Business dreams become a realityNick Lavery(Nick Lavery)

Like the Everest partners, Lavery credits JA for making his business dreams feel achievable. “A lot of my friends probably wouldn’t consider what I’m doing, having a business now as a source of income,” says Lavery. “JA was quite an influence in making this decision.”

At King’s University College in London, where he studied business, Lavery earned an assignment shooting video for the Western football team. One job led to another – filming training camp and games for the London Beefeaters Football Club, documenting a season of Guelph Gryphons football, and shooting a 50th anniversary video for the Knights.

And it continued when a Knights sponsor had Lavery shoot promos to play on the video board during games. His corporate portfolio now includes videos for U. S. Steel Canada, the Huron-Perth Catholic District School Board, a health club, and a London restaurant.

Lavery took a break from university this past year to grow his business. He’s now figuring out how to juggle work and ongoing studies.

Bev Robinson, President of JA London and District, says Achievers carry key lessons from JA into their post-secondary lives. Besides the fundamental entrepreneurial and interpersonal skills, JA gives them the chance to fail in a low-risk environment, learning more about business and resilience.

In an ultra-competitive work world, JA students get the early opportunity to walk into a room and present ideas, lead a real company, brand something, and make a case. “Power,” says Robinson, “is the ability to sell yourself confidently.”

Lavery agrees. “Reading a textbook only gets you so far. You have to go out there and do it, and have the opportunity to put the skills into action.”

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JA Worldwide | 100 Lives | Alexander Kanshin | Megapir Corporation

To commemorate JA’s 100th year in 2019, JA Worldwide is launching 100 Lives, profiles of JA alumni who are making a difference across the globe. Watch their inspiring journeys.


After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia made the difficult transition to a market economy. That same year, JA opened its first location in Russia and began training students in entrepreneurship, workforce readiness, and financial literacy. Alexander Kanshin was one of those students, and he helped build the Russian economy, where small- and medium-sized businesses now make up nearly 95% of the businesses in Russia. He’s the general director of Megapir Corporation, a commercial real estate firm that builds trade centers all over Moscow. “JA is a bridge from childhood to real business,” he says. A successful one, too: JA Russia is now the second-largest participating JA country in the world, with well over 1 million students per year.

“My name is Alexander Kansin. I am JA. I am very proud of it!”

Practicing Financial Literacy at JA Canada

Ed sweater[Ed Zdyb (left) and Andre Gallant, JA Canada’s National Program Manager, showing off their (questionable) fashion choices.]

There are people who work tirelessly behind the scenes to enable JA Canada to carry out its mission every day. Although these individuals rarely see the spotlight, their work is significant in keeping JA Canada moving forward. One of these people is Ed Zdyb, JA Canada’s Director of Finance. He oversees and manages the overall budget, and keeps in check the organization’s revenue and expenses. To shine a light on the importance of Ed’s work and offer insights into the financial workings at JA Canada, he’s written a short blog post about his role, the challenges & opportunities of managing the budget at a charity, the importance of financial reporting & transparency, and the process of establishing a budget each year.

I’ve been at JA Canada for some six months now helping to maintain and improve financial reporting to both internal (i.e. management, committee, Board) as well as external stakeholders (i.e. donors, government, JA Worldwide).  With over 40 years of experience, primarily with not-for-profits and charities, I’ve pretty much come across all sorts of reporting challenges.  In the case of JA Canada, it needs to keep track of its revenue and expenses in a way that ensures accuracy as well as fiscal responsibility.  To do this we use “fund” accounting, which entails separating “buckets” where we track activities according to conditions established by the Board of Directors as well as the donors.

There are accounting rules to be followed – set up by accounting standard-setting bodies like the Chartered Professional Accounting Association – so that there is consistency in financial reporting across all not-for-profits, charities, and associations. This way a stakeholder can have a level of confidence when trying to assess the financial strength of an organization when they are thinking of partnering with or supporting via multi-year contribution agreement.  When it comes to organizations like JA Canada, the key element for any accounting department is to be able to use numbers and dollars to report in a way that’s understandable and transparent to all stakeholders…let’s call it “Cents-ible Storytelling”.

The “storytelling” comes into play when working on a budget – be it for a project or for JA Canada as a whole – and then being able to report on whether the project has met its original goals. In most cases, these results are more than just financial.  What is usually more important to a stakeholder is whether their donation was used responsibly and that the agreed upon goals were achieved. Such expectations require active involvement of all key JA Canada departments.  An effective budget – for a project or otherwise – should be based on a narrative that explains what – and why – undertakings are required (need), what specific activities are required to address the need, who needs to be part of the process (which staff, departments, etc.), how proposed actions will be managed, the estimated costs to achieve desired outcomes, and how results will be measured and reported (beyond simply listing expenses compared to budget).

These storytelling elements exist in the private sector, but the outcomes are usually easier to identify, namely the degree to which a company hit expected profit or profit margins.  It’s usually not that simple in the not-for-profit world, as “profit” needs to be measured in terms of expected social benefits. For example, did JA Canada increase youth participation rate in its programs?  Was JA Canada able to benefit from increased volunteer support?  Is there increased awareness of the JA brand in Canada?  Where and how did JA Canada spend its resources (in terms of donations, contributions, as well as its staff resources)?  While dollars are important, it’s usually the “Cents-ible Storytelling” that proves to be more valuable.

Ed Zdyb
Director of Finance, JA Canada
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A Parent’s Perspective on JA

Together copy(Mairi and Ian McKinnon at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala)

Ian McKinnon is the proud father of Mairi McKinnon (a winner of JA’s Deloitte Inspiration Award). He watched his daughter become involved with JA Company Program – first as a participant and then president – through the Halifax Grammar School in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the video blog (or “vlog”) below, Ian shares the impact JA has had on Mairi and also has a message for prospective parents. Ian McKinnon is Founder and President of GroundSwell Music in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Volunteering at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala

CBHF 2016_282(JA Central Ontario Achiever, Andre Severin, speaks on stage at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala Dinner)

I had a phenomenal experience at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala.  My group of volunteers and I met top leaders in the business world – it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We had an amazing time volunteering, and were fortunate enough to enjoy dinner among such important people.

Hearing the stories of this year’s inductees to the Business Hall of Fame was very inspiring.  They have accomplished many things being leaders of their respective companies.  Listening to Frank Hasenfratz’s experience, immigrating to Canada from Hungary, and then creating a substantial company from a small shop, was a story of true entrepreneurship.   Continuing his legacy, Linda Hasenfratz grew Linamar into a billion dollar company under her leadership.  It was incredible to hear what she has done during her time leading the company.  We also heard the remarkable stories of former CEOs, Gord Nixon and Ed Clark, who ran two of Canada’s top banks.  Gord Nixon was the CEO of RBC for over 10 years, growing the bank and increasing its profits.  Ed Clark, the former CEO of TD Bank Group, brought his customer first mentality to the bank, guiding it to multiple awards for outstanding customer service.  Hearing both of their experiences running multi-billion dollar banks was nothing short of extraordinary.  The final inductee, Rick George, grew Suncor Energy from $1 billion to $50 billion under his leadership as CEO.  It was astounding to hear how he grew the company to Canada’s largest public energy company.  All five inductees were an inspiration to all of us volunteers as we heard everything they did to get to this point.  After hearing their stories, I want to work harder to achieve such success.

EDITED CROP(JA volunteers at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala)

In addition to hearing the inductees’ stories, I was able to meet top leaders in the business world, while volunteering at the Gala.  We assisted guests by directing them to their tables, and also had the privilege of speaking with them.  A highlight of my experience was certainly introducing Frank Hasenfratz to all the guests at the start of the night.  At the event, I was also able to meet other amazing achievers, and made great friends.  We enjoyed each other’s company throughout the entire day, and I look forward to the next time I see them.  I am thankful to JA Canada for the opportunity to volunteer at the Gala and to meet such successful business leaders.

Andre Severin
Achiever, JA Central Ontario

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JA Award Winners Reflect Back on the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala

CBHF 2016_114(Left to Right: Jordan Williams, Tiffany Hou, Mairi McKinnon, Nataleigh Ballantyne, Maude Keyser, Taylor Manning, Liat Fainman-Adelman)

Each year, JA Canada recognizes top students from across the country with our National Awards and Scholarship program. With over 350 student applications, it is quite the task to narrow down and select the top qualified candidates!

Winning our prestigious awards can come with the amazing opportunity of attending and speaking at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala dinner. This year, we welcomed six students from across the country to Toronto, ON for a few days and an exceptional experience in the city. These students were the winners of the Deloitte Inspiration Awards, Peter Mansbridge Positive Change and Youth Leadership Awards.

Their adventure included watching a Toronto Raptors playoff game at Jurassic Park and taking in the sights from the top of the CN Tower. Thanks to our partners at Deloitte, our students also were able to participate in a hands on workshop to better prepare them for their speeches on stage in front of 1,000 top business executives at the gala dinner.

Student award pic 1

All six winners knocked their speeches out of the park and were a highlight of the night for all attendees!

Three of our awards winners describe their experiences below:

Being in Toronto was quite the experience, despite residing in the North Toronto area. The three day trip was a unique one that was befitting for a celebrity. Our itinerary was jam packed with things like public speaking workshops, hair and makeup, tours around the city and VIP after-parties. If that wasn’t enough, I was able to spend my days with some of the most accomplished Junior Achievers I have ever met. I am so thankful for this incredible experience! – Liat Fainman-Adelman, JA Central Ontario

My trip to Toronto sponsored by JA Canada and Deloitte is an experience I will never forget. I have to admit that I was bit nervous going by myself and staying with people I didn’t even know but as soon as I met the other students I felt like I had known them all my life. Everyone was so like-minded, respectful, fun and professional, and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend time with. Our chaperon was also amazing and made all of us feel comfortable and welcomed by her fun and enthusiastic personality. Before the busy day of the gala we spent time exploring downtown Toronto; we went for dinner at an authentic Mexican restaurant, watched some of the Raptors game at Jurassic park and enjoyed the beautiful night view from the CN Tower. The night of the Gala was extraordinary; I met so many inspiring and influential business leaders along with Peter Mansbridge. I wish I could do it all over again because it was definitely a huge highlight in my life. – Taylor Manning, JA Newfoundland & Labrador.

Student award pic 2

When I was informed that I was a recipient of the Deloitte Inspiration Award, which includes a trip to Toronto to attend the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala, I was overjoyed. Once I arrived in Toronto and met the dedicated team of JA staff, I quickly learned that these two days would be ones that I would never forget. It was inspiring to see the amount of hard work that JA Canada puts into making the gala event a success. Also, it was amazing to see all of the support that this worthy organization receives from Canadian business executives.  My experience in Toronto with Junior Achievement was like none other. It was an incredible way to transition from a Junior Achievement company member to a Junior Achievement alumni. – Mairi McKinnon, JA Nova Scotia

We are extremely proud of all our 2016 National Award winners! Our next round of awards open in January 2017; it’s never too early to start preparing to apply!

 

Student award pic3____

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Introducing Our New Multimedia Designer

Reggie Blog Picture

Hi everyone, my name is Reggie Bamrah, and I am very excited to introduce myself as the multimedia designer here at JA Canada! It’s going to be very exciting to work on the JA brand and to be able to contribute to an organization that helps to provide Canadian youth with the skills and tools they need to succeed in an increasingly complex business environment.

I believe that the core foundation of JA, the 3 pillars: Work Readiness, Entrepreneurship and Financial Literacy, are key components to achieve success. I can’t stress enough how important it is for students to learn these vital skills. I remember coming out of college and trying to navigate the intimidating new environment that I had graduated into. There is no doubt in my mind that having a strong foundation in these pillars would have made it easier for me to do this. Once I entered the working world, practical skills like money management, interviewing, and communication and critical thinking were important in landing a job and saving money. The programs offered by JA cover all these areas and more.

Coming into a non-profit organisation when I was originally from a retail background was a big change (in a good way!). I feel more in control of projects and have the ability to plan and organize my day as well as influence the strategy approach of the marketing at JA. Creating work that appeals to multiple audiences and working with the different charters across Canada will be a very interesting and exciting experience.  It feels very refreshing to be part of an amazing team whose mission statement is to “inspire youth and prepare them to succeed in a global economy”.

It’s been great meeting the team and getting more in-depth knowledge of the organisation through my series of orientation meetings with the education, youth engagement, and administration departments. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet with creative people at Spongelab Interactive, who we are working with to create an interactive game to teach students about entrepreneurship and what it takes to build and run a business.

My first week at JA was a busy one: I assisted with marketing material for the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Gala and managed the setup of signs and posters at the event to establish the look and feel of the evening. I am very excited to support a number of future initiatives that are being worked on such as the Next Generation Leaders Forum (NGL) – a conference that brings together students from all over the world for a week of team building and collaboration to solve real world business challenges, and Skills Map – which will be a mobile application that allows students to learn at their own pace.

As a designer, it is my responsibility to create work that serves a purpose and helps people and the community. JA Canada’s values and core beliefs perfectly align with that goal. I have volunteered and done work for other non-profits and community initiatives and that is where I produce my strongest work. I’m excited to continue to produce great eye-catching work that helps students achieve and become the leaders of tomorrow!

Reggie Bamrah
Multimedia Designer, JA Canada

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